That’s Democratic Senator Max Baucus yukking it up with Republican Congressman Dave Camp. They are probably laughing at the medical device manufacturers who though Congress might actually help them stop the ruinous 2.3% excise tax imposed in January from destroying their companies.
In an almost-impossible-to-believe reversal of the commitment to “regular order” and and display of political tone-deafness, the House GOP appears committed to stalling out the bipartisan effort to repeal the onerous, job-destroying medical device tax. Just as the Gang of 8’s leaving the border fence unbuilt endangers every GOP senator up for re-election and all Republican senate candidates in the next cycle, the House GOP’s refusal to move repeal of the medical device tax equals the first huge pratfall on the way to losing the House majority in 2014.
In an interview with me on Thursday, House GOP Deputy Whip Peter Roskam attempted to explain why the House Republicans would not be moving a stand-alone repeal bill, even though the Senate’s test vote on repeal passed by a 79-20 margin the week before the Easter recess began.
A week ago Roll Call’s David Drucker had reported that House Ways and Means Committee Chair David Camp was opposed to moving the repeal bill through the committee and to the floor quickly, but a series of interviews with other Ways and Means Committee members as well as Mitch McConnell’s appeal to the House to pass a stand-alone repeal bill appeared to set the stage for quick House action on the measure. Why, after all, would the GOP endanger its signature issue of tax reduction, especially when the Senate was poised to agree? That is the politics of self-destruction, and it was simply impossible to believe that even the so-called “stupid party” could be so dumb.
Well, it now appears to be, and the reasons Roskam advanced for not moving repeal are not only not persuasive but in fact verge on the incoherent. The very savvy Roskam was trying to argue that the House couldn’t pass repeal because Harry Reid might hijack the repeal bill and send a different bill to the House-Senate conference. This is utter nonsense, of course, because Senate Republicans could block such a measure, and even if they didn’t the House would be under no obligation to approve the disfigured repeal. The Camp-Roskam argument appears to be, then, that the House GOP cannot pass a simple bill for fear of getting tricked by Senate Democrats later, but that the House GOP can be trusted to pass a complicated tax overhaul sometime in the future but not get tricked in the course of that House-Senate conference.
There are explanations for this bizarre decision to snatch defeat from the the jaws of victory, but what is truly amazing is that Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor and all the other House GOP members are willing to let Chairman Camp endanger their majority because he doesn’t want to proceed now with a narrow medical device tax repeal that is manifestly great and urgently needed policy and good politics.
If the leadership does not overrule Chairman Camp and oblige a clean repeal bill —which is already supported by a majority of the House— to issue from the Committee, every single House Republican will suffer damage to their credibility, re-election chances, and of course their own self-respect. Real jobs are being lost by real people, genuine hardships are happening and the nation is losing a crucial edge in a crucial industry, but the House GOP is fiddling and spouting absolute nonsense.
The idea of volunteering time to, much less contributing to a party this lost in Beltway absurdity is ludicrous. How can any House GOPer expect anyone to take them seriously when they refuse to do the most obvious things?
I have provided extensive background on the repeal of the medical device tax —here, here and here. I have interviewed a half-dozen members of the Ways & Means Committee on air, as well as Senators McConnell and Rubio about repeal and Karl Rove on the politics of the measure.
One GOP Congressman –Michigan’s Dave Camp– is opposed so the whole Caucus and the entire industry must suffer the consequences. This is inside-the-Beltway obtuseness at its worst, but all of the GOP House members share the blame for allowing themselves to be led into the obstructionist camp. Chairman Camp has a dream of big tax reform and likes his meetings with Democratic Senator Max Baucus, and no doubt the lobbyists are treating Camp and his staff to lots of ego stroking, but that is all at the expense of real jobs and real companies. Camp’s Sixth District ion Michigan may not be home to any medical device entrepreneurs, but there are 8,000 such companies across the company, every one of them suffering because Dave Camp doesn’t want their problems to interfere with his agenda and ambitions.
Call your GOP member via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to urge them to put repeal of the MDT on their agenda, or send a tweet to Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp via Twitter: @SpeakerBoehner, @EricCantor, @RepDaveCamp.
The GOP Members of the Ways and Means Committee in addition to Chairman Camp:
Sam Johnson, TX* Subcommittee on Health
Kevin Brady, TX* Chair, Subcommittee on Health
Paul Ryan, WI* Subcommittee on Health
Devin Nunes, CA* Subcommittee on Health
Pat Tiberi, OH
Dave G. Reichert, WA
Charles W. Boustany Jr., LA
Peter J. Roskam, IL* Subcommittee on Health
Jim Gerlach, PA* Subcommittee on Health
Tom Price, GA* Subcommittee on Health
Vern Buchanan, FL* Subcommittee on Health
Adrian Smith, NE* Subcommittee on Health
Aaron Schock, IL
Lynn Jenkins, KS
Erik Paulsen, MN
Kenny Marchant, TX
Diane Black, TN
Tom Reed, NY
Todd Young, IN
Mike Kelly, PA
Tim Griffin, AR
Jim Renacci, OH